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I have mad love for the Genesis Framework. In fact, I only recommend WordPress themes that are built using it. I’ve made the mistake of using WordPress themes that were not built using Genesis and let me tell you, that’s a huge mistake that you don’t want to make. My load time was slower, I ran into a lot of compatibility issues, and I found myself having to go in and edit the actual theme or design code if I wanted to make simple changes. In the early days, before I had any idea what I was doing, I crashed my site twice by editing the wrong line of code. Oops! At least I was smart enough to have a back-up the second time. The first time? Well, let’s just say that it’s tedious trying to manually restore a year’s worth of content.
Now, I only use themes built using the Genesis Framework. My favorite designers are Hello You Designs (my current theme), Restored 316 (I’m seriously considering switching to the Captivate theme), and Pretty Darn Cute Designs. At one point or another in my blogging journey I’ve used each of those designers and I’ve never had a problem with any of their themes. Plus, they are all gorgeous!
After you choose a theme and install the Genesis Framework (which is a separate one-time purchase), I highly recommend installing each of the WordPress plugins below. They make it a lot easier to run Genesis and customizations to your blog are a breeze. If you need help installing the Genesis Framework, I have a post to help you out.
Essential WordPress Plugins for the Genesis Framework
Genesis Simple Hooks
The Genesis Simple Hooks plugin is fabulous! Instead of having to go into your theme editor and modify the design code, you can plug and play code snippets into the various sections in this plugin. I find that I mostly add code snippets to section between <head> and </head> and this makes it so simple. There are hooks for nearly every area imaginable so you can modify your blog code as needed without changing your original theme files.
Genesis eNews Extended
Genesis eNews Extended captures subscriber names and emails so you can build your newsletter list. It’s easy to customize and it works in a lot of different widget spaces. I use it to collect emails in my sidebar and in my blog footer. If you look at the themes available on Restored 316, you’ll see that there is almost always a space on the home page for you to subscribe. This plugin is what she uses to make that happen. Plus, it is easy to set it up to integrate with MailChimp so you don’t have to use their ugly forms (no offense MailChimp but seriously…).
Genesis Easy Columns
I lovvvvvve the Genesis Easy Columns plugin! It’s one of my favorites because I am all about grids on my blog pages. You can see this plugin in action on my About page and my Blog page. I also use it on my Work with Me page to showcase the logos of various brands I’ve worked with in the past. It’s available for formatting pages and posts so it’s kind of a no-brainer plugin for me.
Genesis Custom Footer
The Genesis Custom Footer plugin lets you easily change the footer credits on your blog. Most themes credit the theme designer and say something similar to “powered by WordPress” or “built on the Genesis Framework”. This plugin lets you change the footer credits to anything you’d like without having to edit the theme code.
Genesis Connect for WooCommerce
I had the Genesis Connect for WooCommerce plugin even before I had a shop. If you have a good theme, odds are it’s compatible with WooCommerce but this plugin makes it super simple to connect everything and activate your store. It’s a must-have before using your shop anyway so you might as well have it at the ready.
Ok, so I know the Genesis 404 plugin take the count up to six plugins but it’s not really essential. In fact, I stopped using it because I switched to the 404 to 301 redirect plugin but this one is fabulous. It allows you to design a custom 404 page so you don’t have to have visitors land on a boring “error” page if they hit a broken link.
If your blog is missing any of those essential plugins, I recommend installing them asap. If you’re thinking of starting a new blog or hunting for a new theme, start with the Genesis Framework and don’t forget to download your free Genesis Guide for Absolute Beginners.
Do you have any favorite plugins to share? Tweet me at @ashleyfromhp or drop them in the comments below.